After animator Don Bluth and other artists broke from Disney in the late '70s to forge their own studio, their first feature-length work was 1982s "The Secret of NIMH," an adaptation of a Newberry Medal-winning book. This gorgeous, moody film - one of the last triumphs of hand-drawn animation - features Mrs. Brisby, a widow, fighting for her home and her children against a farmer-made calamity. The almost-all-rodent supporting cast includes the amusing Auntie Shrew and the super-intelligent former lab rats of NIMH (the National Institute of Mental Health). Bluth and Company clearly love the mice, because their follow-up feature was the immigration fable "An American Tail." Bonus points: This "Despereaux" predecessor features plenty of rats with pointy weapons.
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